Hollywood agency taps Carlyle co-founder, Ashton Kutcher for $500m SPAC

The William Morris Agency has enlisted Carlyle co-founder Edward Mathias and actor Ashton Kutcher to direct a blank cheque vehicle.

In another foray into the world of alternative investments, Hollywood talent agency William Morris has launched a blank cheque company – and tapped private equity veteran Edward Mathias and Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher to help manage it.

The prominent talent and literary agency is seeking to raise $500 million (€320 million) in a public offering for Performance Acquisition Corporation, which will debut on the American Stock Exchange later this year. The special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, will pursue businesses in the publishing, entertainment, and media industries, according to its SEC filings.

A William Morris-led consortium of sponsors will invest $5 million in Performance Acquisition upon its public debut. The company, which will have two years to acquire another entity before being dissolved, will offer 50 million units at $10 per share.

Sitting on Performance Acquisitions’ board of directors is Carlyle Group co-founder and SPAC veteran Edward Mathias. Along with Performance Acquisition president Jonathan Ledeckey, Mathias sits on the board of Endeavor Acquisition, the blank-cheque company that acquired clothing company American Apparel in a highly publicized deal in 2006.

Mathias and Ledecky also preside over Victory Acquisition Corp, another blank cheque entity that consummated a $330 million public offering in April of last year. Mathias currently serves as a member of the Investment Committee for Carlyle Venture Partners, Carlyle Europe Venture Partners and Carlyle Asia Venture Partners.  

Mathias will be joined on Performance Acquisition’s board by “That 70’s Show” and “Punk’d” star Ashton Kutcher.

William Morris’ move into SPACs represents the company’s second major step into alternative investment vehicles in recent months.

Earlier this year, the agency teamed up with Silicon Valley venture capital firms Accel Partners and Venrock to form a joint southern California venture investment vehicle.

Talent agency rival Creative Arts is also rumored to be raising a venture capital vehicle.

William Morris executive vice president of corporate development John Mass will represent the agency’s interests on the SPAC’s board of directors.